Art Works Blog

From the Archives: Advice For Artists, From Artists

Pursuing a career in the arts isn’t always an easy road. So when someone offers up a piece of free advice, we’re all ears. Below are words of wisdom for emerging artists, given by fellow artists we’ve interviewed in the past. As you read up, feel free to leave your own words of wisdom in the comments.

"If you don't love it, get out." -F. Murray Abraham, actor

"If you're willing to learn from the giants who came before you, be respectful, and actively engage the amazing musicians you come in contact with, acceptance becomes a moot point." –Esperanza Spalding, musician

"Do the thing itself. Don’t pay much mind to critics or what anyone says about it. Just do it, in any form possible, and watch others doing it. Take it in viscerally, get it by osmosis. Don’t ever read your own reviews, certainly not the good ones." -Holland Taylor, actress

"I think there are two things that are important. One is to get your priorities straight. And then, stay persistent." –Sedrick Huckaby, visual artist

"I would tell [young artists] to not fear seeing with the heart or  self-expression, but to fear to not take the challenge to do it or to remain silent about what they want to express and witness to make this a better world. When we create art, we have the capacity to leave a better world for those who come after us." -Veronica CastilloNEA National Heritage Fellow 

"[D]on't sleep through inspiration." -Marc Bamuthi Joseph, poet, dancer, and playwright

"Sometimes some things work out and sometimes they don't. The one thing I can say is that if you truly believe that your mission in life is to play this music, then stay the course. You'll have to endure the hardships along with the good times, and there will be hard times." -Doyle LawsonNEA National Heritage Fellow 

"You need to be mindful about how you walk in the world, how you live in the world. And if you have your eyes open wide enough, you can find inspiration in just about anything." -Septime Webre, choreographer

"Keep an open mind, and weigh everything carefully. Don't discard anything until you know what it's about. And don't ever be satisfied with yourself. You can settle down into obscurity. There's always something new to learn, believe me, and no one person knows it all. Never be satisfied. That's dangerous." -Benny Golson, NEA Jazz Master

"Be curious. Be constantly, consistently, indiscriminately curious." -Maria Popova, creative blogger

"Just write and love what you're writing. And if you're not loving what you're writing, take a look at why and fix that." -Roxane Gay, writer

"[T]he best advice I can offer for younger people, is to stick to your story. Learn your stories. Learn to present your stories to the best of your abilities. And never change your stories because they might bring you commercial success. Always keep to the honesty and truth of your stories." -William S. Yellow Robe, Jr., playwright

"Read, read, read!" -Linda Pastan, poet

"I would say the best [piece of advice I received] is to be persistent, and to learn as much as you can about all aspects of what the field is you're working in. Don't just learn one little piece of the puzzle. Try to learn the whole puzzle, and then be very persistent." -George Lucas, director

"Try and see all the great art that you can, find your voice, and be sure that this is really what you want to do." -Barbara Ernst Prey, visual artist

"Just keep reinventing yourself." -Lainie Kazan, actress and singer

Does this advice have you feeling motivated? Check out some motivational words here to inspire you even more!

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